The Dominican Republic will soon erect a fence along its border with Haiti in order to keep illegal immigrants and drug traffickers at bay, President Luis Abinader has said.
The Caribbean country, which shares 376-kilometer (234 miles) of the porous border with the former French colony, is already home to almost a million Haitian citizens. Some reports say Haitians account for 5% of the DR’s population.
“In a period of two years, we want to put an end to the serious problems of illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and the movement of stolen vehicles,” reported Reuters quoting Abinader as saying.
The border fence, which is said to start rising in the second half of this year, will be armed with motion sensors, facial recognition cameras, and infrared systems, the President added.
The Dominican Republic became independent from Haiti around 175 years ago. Both countries share a similar culture, but their residents speak different languages. Spanish is the national language in the Dominican Republic, while Haitians speak Creole.
Thousands of Haitians have not received citizenship despite having lived in the Dominican Republic for more than a decade. As of 2018, around 500,000 Haitians lived in the DR. Today a large part of the Haitian community does not have residence permits.
Haiti is politically unstable and has long been plagued by crime. Weeks ago, dozens of people died in a manhunt following a prison break at a jail nearby Port-au-Prince.